©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Uncooked rice from your kitchen cupboard can treat pain.

Natural Home Remedies for Back Pain

Back-pain home remedies rely primarily on rest and modification of daily routine. The kitchen shelves, however, do hold a few ingredients that can help get you "back" into shape.

Home Remedies From the Cupboard

Chamomile tea. Daily stress can make back muscles feel knotted. Chamomile tea offers calming relief to soothe tense muscle tissue. During a break or after work, treat yourself to a steaming mug. Steep 1 tablespoon chamomile flowers in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes. Or, you can use a prepackaged chamomile tea. Drink 1 to 3 cups a day.

(Warning! Chamomile contains allergy-inducing proteins related to ragweed pollen. Ask your doctor about drinking chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed.) Packaged tea may be safer to drink than tea made from the flowers. Your doctor can advise you.

Epsom salts. Epsom salts ease back pain by reducing swelling. Fill your bathtub as usual and add 2 cups salts. Soak for 30 minutes.

Rice. Fill a clean, thick sock with 1 cup uncooked rice and place in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds on medium-low. Check the temperature and apply to the back.

Home Remedies From the Freezer

Cold compresses. Cold compresses or ice packs should be applied immediately after back strain or injury. When the back suffers injury, blood rushes to the damaged area. Even though the resulting swelling is normal, too much inflammation can increase pain and lengthen your recovery period. An icy application reduces inflammation and helps numb pain. To make a cold compress, pack a few crushed cubes of ice into a plastic reclosable bag, cover with a washcloth or towel, and apply to the back for 15 minutes. Take it off for 30 minutes and then replace it for 15 more minutes. (A bag of frozen vegetables also works well. Wrap in a towel, too.)

Home Remedies From the Refrigerator

Ginger root. Fragrant ginger root has long been known to cure nausea, but back pain? Yes, ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds, including some with mild aspirin-like effects. When your back aches, cut a 1- to 2-inch fresh ginger root into slices and place in 1 quart boiling water. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes on low heat. Cool for 30 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey (to taste), and drink.

Milk. Bone up on milk. Women, especially, should take care to include plenty of calcium in their diets. Older women are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, the disease of eroding bones. Calcium helps build strong bones and protects the spine from osteoporosis.

Home Remedies From the Stove

Hot compresses. You can begin to apply heat to your back 48 hours after an injury. Warmth relaxes tight muscles, increases blood flow, and is extremely soothing. Soak a washcloth in water that you've heated on the stove, use a heating pad, or take a hot shower or bath.

Nothing can put you out of commission faster than back pain. Now that you've read this article, you can make these home remedies part of your back-saving strategy.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.